4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

AS MEN­TIONED a cou­ple of months ago (May, 2017), my re­cently ac­quired 1994 De­fender 300Tdi needed a fair bit of work. The ob­vi­ous prob­lems in­cluded a big wob­ble in the steer­ing at high­way speeds, a slip­ping clutch, and oil leaks from ev­ery con­ceiv­able seal (sit­u­a­tion nor­mal, I hear you snig­ger).

Rather than take it to my lo­cal me­chanic, I en­listed the ser­vices of Pete Davis from Rov­ing Me­chan­i­cal. Pete, who’s been work­ing on Landies for years, has set up shop with the equally ex­pe­ri­enced Glen Wick­ens in the south­ern Syd­ney sub­urb of Peakhurst. I left the Landy with Pete for a few days and he had a good look over it be­fore pre­sent­ing me with a long, long list of items re­quir­ing at­ten­tion.

I ex­pected there would be a fair bit to do, and had fac­tored that into my bud­get, so I gave Pete the go-ahead to fix the ar­eas of im­me­di­ate con­cern, which in­cluded a new water pump, new brake fluid reser­voir and new sil­i­con in­ter­cooler hoses. On pick­ing up the De­fender, Pete ran me through the rest of the prob­lems that would still have to be fixed: leak­ing inlet man­i­fold, rear disc shields, wheel bear­ings, ra­dius rod bushes, Pan­hard rod bushes, swivel seals, trans­fer case over­haul, clutch re­place­ment, steer­ing damper, leak­ing aux­il­iary fuel tank… you get the idea.

I drove the De­fender home and parked it in the garage, with an old car­pet un­der­neath to soak up the leak­ing flu­ids. A few weeks later I took it back to Pete, where all of the listed work was car­ried out over a cou­ple of weeks while I was gal­li­vant­ing about the Flin­ders Ranges in some­one else’s 4x4.

Pete fit­ted an Xtreme Out­back heavy duty clutch from Aus­tralian Clutch Ser­vices in place of the stan­dard item, and the five mis­matched tyres were flicked in favour of a set of Bf­goodrich All Ter­rain T/A KO2S. I have now sam­pled the KO2S on a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles – up in the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try and in the South Aus­tralian out­back – and I’m a big fan, so I’m look­ing forward to see­ing how they per­form in nar­row LT235/85R16 spec on the De­fender.

When I picked up the De­fender once more it felt vastly im­proved; no more steer­ing wob­ble, no more slip­ping clutch and no more oil or fuel leaks (Pete had re­moved the aux­il­iary tank so I could get it welded up). There was still a knock in the rear-end, which was even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed as the rear A-frame bushes. These were re­placed on a sub­se­quent visit to Pete and the De­fender now drives as it should.

Yes, I ex­ceeded my original bud­get, but not by too much, and now I’m the happy owner of a very ca­pa­ble off-roader, al­beit one that doesn’t look all that flash thanks to some bent pan­els, be­low av­er­age paint and very faded de­cals. I’ve since re­moved most of the crappy old win­dow tint, and I’ve ripped out the sag­ging roof lin­ing.

There’s still a long road ahead for the De­fender, but for this project I’m will­ing to give it all the time it takes.

Time to re­place the tim­ing belt.

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